- Learn how to prepare Ecuadorian cuisine in a Quito cooking class
- Explore the beautiful cloud forest of Mindo in the Andean foothills
- Sleep in a traditional hacienda in Cotopaxi National Park
- Zipline or swing high over the beautiful scenery of Baños
- Drive along the awe-inspiring Avenue of Waterfalls
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, Explore||Quito|
|Day 2||Take a Cooking Class, Discover Mitad del Mundo||Quito|
|Day 3||Shop Otavalo Market, Hike Around Cuicocha Lagoon||Quito|
|Day 4||Day Trip to the Mindo Cloud Forest, Tour Chocolate Factory||Quito|
|Day 5||Transfer to Cotopaxi National Park, Explore||Cotopaxi|
|Day 6||Transfer to Baños via Quilotoa Lagoon Hike (Optional Mule Excursion)||Baños|
|Day 7||Explore the Avenue of Waterfalls & Baños, Return to Quito||Quito|
|Day 8||Depart Quito|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Explore
Welcome to Ecuador! The entire city of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m), it welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas between mountain peaks. The city has an abundance of marketplaces, shamanistic healers, and fourth-generation hat makers, as well as a vibrant and sophisticated culinary and nightlife scene. Spend your first day in the country exploring the capital and sampling Ecuadorian cuisine, then get some rest.
Day 2: Take a Cooking Class, Discover Mitad del Mundo
Today, your guide will take you on a walking tour through the colonial center of Quito. You'll visit the Plaza Grande and the beautiful churches La Compañía and La Basílica and walk down the oldest street of Quito, La Ronda.
Next, you'll participate in a cooking class. With a local chef, you'll shop for produce in a marketplace and learn how to prepare a few traditional Ecuadorian dishes. Enjoy this freshly made lunch, followed by coffee. Afterward, you'll visit the equatorial monument Mitad del Mundo, where French scientists determined the position of the equator's line many years ago. Stop for dinner in a traditional restaurant, then stay overnight at your hotel in Quito.
Day 3: Shop Otavalo Market, Hike Around Cuicocha Lagoon
Today, visit Otavalo Market, one of South America's most important and traditional markets. Indigenous people gather here to buy and trade everything from handicrafts to fresh vegetables and fruits. Take a stroll through the streets near the market and try some local street food, such as salted mango or fritada con mote (fried pork with cooked corn).
In the afternoon, hike around the crater lagoon of Cuicocha. On the trail, your guide will point out the high-altitude flora and fauna and explain the history of the once-active volcano. In the evening you'll return to Quito.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Day Trip to the Mindo Cloud Forest, Tour Chocolate Factory
This morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the lush cloud forest of Mindo. This forest's location on the western slopes of the Andean highlands means mild temperatures and a lot of rainfall, which help nourish its incredible biodiversity. Once you arrive, you'll be able to see hundreds of different bird species, visit the butterfly garden, hike to beautiful waterfalls, or ride a zipline through the forest.
Later, tour the nearby chocolate factory and learn how locally grown cacao beans are processed to create delicious candy. In the late afternoon, you'll head back to Quito.
Day 5: Transfer to Cotopaxi National Park, Explore
Leave Quito this morning and head south to Cotopaxi National Park. Visit Lake Limpiopungo, located in the highlands, offering a spectacular view of Cotopaxi Volcano's gigantic cone. Lake Limpiopungo is home to various birds and wild horses, too. Take a short walk around the lake to admire Andean plants and wildlife.
You'll reach a traditional hacienda just in time for lunch. Afterward, go for a scenic horseback excursion in the foothills of Rumiñahui Volcano, explore the surroundings on a mountain bike, or relax at the hacienda, where you'll spend the night.
Day 6: Transfer to Baños via Quilotoa Lagoon Hike (Optional Mule Excursion)
Today you'll visit a picturesque volcano lagoon, Quilotoa. Walk along the crater's rim to enjoy the splendid view, or hike down a path to the crater lake. You'll also have the option to rent a mule for the excursion. In the afternoon, you'll continue to Baños. Choose one of several excellent restaurants near your hotel to enjoy a traditional Ecuadorian-style meal.
Day 7: Explore the Avenue of Waterfalls & Baños, Return to Quito
You'll drive along the so-called Avenue of Waterfalls this morning with your guide. Traveling south from Baños, you'll follow the Pastaza River as it winds through the valley of the same name. Passing a number of waterfalls, you'll reach the village of Río Verde, where you'll stop to visit the well-known waterfall known as Pailón del Diablo ("Devil's Cauldron").
Try ziplining or canyoning, relax in the hot springs, swing high above the clouds at the Casa del Árbol—a hugely popular activity with kids—and enjoy a cup of coffee at Café del Cielo as you take in incredible views of Baños and the surrounding mountains. You'll return to Quito in the afternoon for one last overnight before the trip ends.
Day 8: Depart Ecuador
The trip ends today. Head to the airport in Quito to catch a flight out. Safe travels!
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